Workers Compensation Serious and Willful Misconduct Claims – Brought Before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, but Not Covered by Your Workers Comp. Insurance (California Labor Code Section 4553)

The amount of workers’ compensation that may be awarded to an injured worker may be increased if the injury was brought about by the serious and willful misconduct of the employer or the employer’s managing representative. Serious and willful misconduct is best defined as any intentional act, or failure to act, coupled with the knowledge that serious injury will be the probable result from that act or failure to act.

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Potential Penalties for Discriminating against Injured Workers Labor Code Section 132a

It is the declared policy of California that there should not be discrimination against workers who are injured in the course and scope of their employment. Therefore, any employer who discharges, or threatens to discharge, or in any manner discriminates against any employee because the employee has filed or made known his or her intention to file a workers’ compensation claim, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and the employee may seek extra forms of compensation from the employer.

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U.S. Bankruptcy Code Section 547: The 90-Day “Preferential Payment”

Many businesses are surprised to learn that there is a Bankruptcy Code provision, commonly referred to as the “Preferential Payment Rule,” which generally provides that where a debtor makes a payment to a creditor and the debtor files bankruptcy within 90 days thereafter, the creditor can often be forced by the Bankruptcy Court to pay all the sums paid by the debtor back into the bankruptcy estate for distribution to general creditors. When the creditor is an “insider” with the debtor the time period increases from 90 days to one year. This Rule is found in U.S. Bankruptcy Code section 547. The impact of this rule is often devastating to those who have received payment and disbursed it to their own creditors and no longer have the funds to pay to the bankruptcy court.

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Mechanic’s Lien Laws, Forms and Procedures Changed on January 1, 2011

nder laws which took effect on January 1, 2011, claimants who seek to obtain payment for construction related debts through the California mechanic’s lien procedure must follow new rules and use new forms. Failure to do so will likely result in an unenforceable mechanics lien. There are a number of reasons that the law was changed. For example, until this change, there was no requirement that a mechanic’s lien claimant actually inform the property owner that the claimant has recorded a mechanic’s lien on the owner’s property. There was also no requirement that a mechanic’s lien claimant inform an owner of exactly what a mechanic’s lien is or that the owner may be sued within 90 days to foreclose on the mechanic’s lien and sell the owner’s property to pay the unpaid debt. Property owners had long complained that, until they received the mechanic’s lien foreclosure lawsuit, they were often entirely unaware that a mechanics lien had even been recorded on their property. The owner asserted that if he/she had known that a mechanic’s lien had been recorded, he/she could have acted to resolve the matter before a lawsuit became necessary. This was a particularly common complaint in the residential construction industry where homeowners are generally unaware of the entire concept of a mechanic’s lien.

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California Indemnity and Defense Construction Law Changes for 2013

For many years the prevalence of the “Type 1” indemnity clause has been the subject of fierce debate within the construction industry. Subcontractors have complained that they are saddled with indemnity obligations that require them to indemnify contractors from construction-related claims for which these subcontractors are truly not responsible. In defense, contractors have argued that they must be entitled to the freedom to set contractual terms to best protect themselves and they point out that subcontractors are certainly free to negotiate better terms or turn down work.

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Important Changes to California Construction Forms Beginning on July 1, 2012: The Impact of 2010 Senate Bill 189

The most important changes to California construction law in decades will become effective on July 1, 2012. Signed into law in 2010, Senate Bill 189, reorganized and renumbered all those California Civil Code provisions dealing with such familiar construction claim remedies as the Mechanics Lien, Stop Notice and Bond Claim. While this effort greatly simplified the legal rules and made them easier to follow, there are a number of important substantive changes to these laws. These changes include new definitions, new rules and new procedures found in new Civil Code Sections 8000 to 9566. These changes also mean that new forms will be necessary. As a result of these changes, all those in the construction industry should begin using the new forms and procedures beginning on July 1, 2012. Failure to do so could result in loss of important legal rights. Some of the most important changes to the forms are outlined below. A website to access the new forms free of charge is also identified below.

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Sacramento Air Board Construction Mitigation Rule 1052: Upcoming Costly Regulation

Another costly new regulation is heading our Industry’s way early next year. The Sacramento Air Quality District (AQMD) has recently released a proposal that would force every construction project (Over 2,000 sq ft Commercial) to reduce their total project baseline carbon emissions by 20% Nitrate Oxide (NOx) and by 45% Particulate Matter (PM 10). Submittals of full equipment lists, project durations, and the size of the job-site are all necessary for the Air Board’s “scientific determination” of whether a project has met its carbon emission targets. If companies do not meet the stringent new guidelines, they will be required to pay a fee ranging from a minimum of $16,400 to a maximum of $38,960 per ton of (NOx). Particulate matter will also be charged via Cap & Trade, but this fee has not yet been released to the public.

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